The 1929 Westlake exposition (Chinese: 1929年杭州西湖博覽會) was a world's fair held in Xihu District, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Republic of China in 1929. The event opened on June 6, 1929, lasting 137 days. There were 14,760,000 items in the exhibit with 20,000,000 visitors. It was the only national exposition during the Republic of China. The exposition grew out of the social and economic flourish of the time, meanwhile, foster the further development of native industry and many other fields.
Main architect and designer
The main architect/designer was Liu Jipiao (1900-1992). He studied art and architecture at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France. Liu dedicated 6 months of his life to organize and create the Expo. He and his cohorts (such as Lin Fengmian) believed that this would bring modern (western) art influences to the masses. They were hoping to strengthen and modernize China through art and culture.
The 1929 Westlake exposition was the only national exposition during the Republic of China. It resulted from the political, economic, and social development and needs of that area. In return, the 1929 Westlake exposition also promoted development in all three fields and left valuable cultural assets to the city.
Many social scholars have analyzed the 1929 Westlake exposition, such as Qiao Zhaohong and Ai Xianfeng. Based on their assessments, the following three components are credited to the success of the 1929 Westlake exposition.
- First, the exposition accorded with the government's macro policy to foster political, educational, social, and economic development of the country. At the end of 1928, the Nanjing government unified the country and announced the beginning of political training. The peaceful social situation at the end of 1928 made it possible to focus on economic development as part of policies about national revolution. The government saw encouraging native industrial development and promoting native products to the public as significant. They thought holding a national exposition was an efficient way.
- Second, the exposition was the outcome of multiple 19th-century ideological trends, including the notion of saving the country with industry and encouraging native products. Since the philosophy of Chinese national revolution was also centered on economic development, these two trends in social thought were supported by the Nanjing government, Chinese entrepreneurs, and many social activists. In support of these trends, the Kuomintang issued a series of orders to reward national industries, promote domestic goods, and encourage machinery manufacturing and technological improvement. With the support of the government and society, the 1929 Westlake exposition displayed native products in twelve categories. Beyond industrial goods, the exposition also displayed achievements in education, literature, art, and political evolution.
- Third, locating the exposition in Zhejiang Province enabled the Hangzhou government to hold a well-planned exposition in an area with a strong economy. In 1928, the Kuomintang issued the "General Rules for The Holding of National Articles Exhibition" to encourage holding expositions to foster local economy and industry. Given the past native and international exposition experience and the current government's support, the Committee of Zhejiang Province passed the proposal to the exposition. Zhejiang had the proper human, material, and financial conditions to hold large-scale exhibitions. The local handicraft industry had a long history, including a developed and well-known silk industry, wine industry, paper industry, and carving industry. Meanwhile, after WWI, Zhejiang has developed its modern industrial and capitalism. Also, the committee purposely located the exposition at the Westlake, one of the most popular tourist places in the country. The Westlake exposition attracted more visitors due to the West Lake scenic zone (“藉名胜之区，设博览之会”).
West Lake Exposition Museum
West Lake Exposition Museum is located at 41-42 Beishan Road, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China.
The building was the Industrial Hall and the only professional Hall of the 1929 West Lake Expo and was converted into a museum in 2003. It was designed by Sheng Chengyan and Sun Bingzhang.